Ministers meeting in The Hague have failed to agree on an action plan aimed at preserving and managing the forests around the world deemed to be under threat.

Northern hemisphere countries opposed an increase in the World Bank‘s General Environment Fund (GEF), which supports developing countries to fight deforestation, at the sixth annual conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

A Dutch-led action plan failed to win European backing, with several countries preferring to target primary forests in tropical regions, Canada and Russia. But Canada, Brazil and Malaysia rejected interference in their forestry policies.

An initiative led by France and Germany aimed at protecing the rainforest in the Congo Basin of central Africa was also heavily altered down by emerging countries and some of the largest EU timber producers.

However, it was agreed that the UN should step up its battle against illegal logging. Conclusions will provide input at the second Earth Summit in South Africa this September.